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Psychosocial predictors of asthma onset during mid-adulthood: evidence from the National Child Development Study

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This paper provides evidence about how psychosocial factors predict asthma onset during mid-adulthood. Questions addressed are:

1. Do life course adversities predict asthma onset? What types of adversity are important?

2. What factors confound and mediate associations between childhood adversity and asthma onset?

3. In the context of life course adversity, do psychological factors predict asthma onset?

Data from the National Child Development Study from birth to age 42 were used. Asthma onset was measured between 33 and 42.

To reduce bias and maintain numbers, missing values were imputed in multiple data sets. Logistic regression analyses were conducted of asthma onset on life course adversities, classified as material (including occupation-related) and social (family-/relationship-related, child loss, traumatic). Nested models were used to address questions 2 and 3, and a wide range of factors tested.

After adjustment for gender, asthma onset during mid-adulthood was more common among cohort members who reported life course adversities (odds ratio per category = 1.232 (1.140–1.332)) in eight categories. Social adversities predicted asthma onset after adjustment for material adversities. The association between childhood adversity and asthma onset was mediated by subsequent adversity and depressive symptoms at 33. Asthma onset was predicted by female gender, atopic history, life course adversity, internalising childhood temperament and depressive symptoms at 33.

This study contributes to a small evidence base that life course adversities substantially increase the risk of adult-onset asthma, and highlights the importance of psychosocial pathways. The salience of depressive symptoms shortly before diagnosed onset is a new finding.
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Keywords: Asthma; adversity; depressive symptoms; psychological stress; psychosocial

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, UK

Publication date: October 2020

This article was made available online on October 27, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Psychosocial predictors of asthma onset during mid-adulthood: evidence from the National Child Development Study".

More about this publication?
  • Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (LLCS) is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the needs of researchers studying the life course and using longitudinal methods at the interfaces of social, developmental and health sciences. It fosters cross-disciplinary and international endeavours and promotes the creation and exploitation of longitudinal data resources as well as their application to policy issues. As the journal of the Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies (SLLS) it provides an opportunity for scholars at all stages of their careers to publish work crossing disciplinary boundaries which is often beyond the scope of more conventional, single-field journals.

    Longitudinal research involves the follow up of individuals, households, communities or other groups over time. Life course study focuses on the influences that shape holistic pathways from conception to adult life and old age. LLCS brings together the broad range of specialist interests in an international, multi-disciplinary, multi-method framework.

    The Editors welcome submissions which report on research or methodological development, in one or more of these fields and from a spectrum of disciplinary approaches: sociological (quantitative and qualitative), demographic, economic, geographic, historical, psychological and behavioural, epidemiological and statistical. Typically papers deal with individual data in several domains (for example physical or mental health, education, housing, employment) as they change over time, and set in their life course and policy context. International comparisons are encouraged within papers and can be made between them.

    In addition to carrying research articles, the Journal specialises in publishing study profiles introducing particular longitudinal studies to scientific and policy users and the designers and managers of other studies It explores new forms of longitudinal data collection, including the exploitation of administrative sources. Occasionally, it also publishes edited debates and invited pieces about the research-policy interface, keynote addresses at SLLS conferences, and reviews of books of special relevance to our readership. The Editors seek to ensure that all research reporting is accessible to the journal's multi-disciplinary readership and encourage comparisons and collaborations between countries and studies. We are especially eager to showcase findings from parts of the world where longitudinal studies are increasingly being established, such as East Asia, Africa and South America. LLCS strives to maintain the highest quality in accepted papers through double-blind peer review, drawing on an international as well as interdisciplinary network of editors and reviewers.

    Back issues of Longitudinal and Life Course Studies are available via the PKP Platform.

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